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American High School Teacher looking to teach English in Poland


janbe
14 Aug 2021 #1
Hi,

I am currently employed as a history teacher at a private high school in the U.S. mostly teaching world history, AP American History and AP European History. I have a B.S. and M.S. in Political Science. I am of Polish descent and have a Polish passport so I won't have any trouble with a working legally in Poland. I have entertained the idea of going back to the country of my birth for some time and have recently finished a CELTA certification course. I am particularly interested in work in Warsaw and am writing here in hopes of getting some advice on how to get started.

A few questions:

Having searched jooble, indeed and pracuj.pl I've noticed that there are few adverts for native speakers written in English. Most positions seem to be advertised in Polish. So, is there still a vibrant job market in ESL for native speakers in Warsaw?

Aside from postings on job listing sites, are there other methods of finding ESL jobs that veterans here can share?

Have people here found success emailing CVs and cover letters to schools that don't have any job announcements or only have such announcements in Polish?

Are online Polish recruiter sites useful in this job market?

Any advice about looking for an ESL job in Warsaw would be greatly appreciated.
Joker 2 | 2,222
15 Aug 2021 #2
I am currently employed as a history teacher

Why would you quit a good paying job to go work in Poland for 1/3 of the money? Theres already a multitude of Brits doing the same thing and working for peanuts over there. Powodzenia:)
OP janbe
15 Aug 2021 #3
@Joker

Honestly, I want a change of scenery. Leaving money on the table isn't that important to me. I just want to try something new and hoped that people here might have some good information for a TEFL newbie like me.
Novichok 3 | 6,661
15 Aug 2021 #4
I want a change of scenery.

That scenery will get old very quickly and you will be stuck with the negatives. Those never go away or get better.
mafketis 34 | 11,878
15 Aug 2021 #5
is there still a vibrant job market in ESL for native speakers in Warsaw?

No. Hasn't been for years. Natives with functional to fluent Polish can do well but it takes time to build up a client base. The idea is you have a job for basic expenses and healthcare and do extra work (classes, editing, translation) for disposable income.

Also in Poland, feet on the ground means a lot. Once you're in the country you physically go around rather than correspond (even if people tell you it's not that way anymore.... it's still that way).

Also, don't start off in Warsaw. I would suggest a city of around 100,000 (or less) with good connections to a city of 500,000 or more.

I always say that Poland can be a great place to live (once you figure out how things work and stop trying to change them) but it doesn't have a user-friendly interface.

Don't give up on the idea of Poland but Warsaw.... is not a place for newbies (and lots more expensive than anywhere else for.... not much more).

"there are few adverts for native speakers written in English"

They want to filter out those who don't know Polish (who have the potential to be massive pains in the neck).
jon357 71 | 20,189
15 Aug 2021 #6
are there other methods of finding ESL jobs

Try tefl.com
alazofiajanosh - | 4
19 Mar 2022 #7
Maybe you can try in itsw.edu.pl/szkola-podstawowa/ ? They have schools and kindergartens in Krakow and Warsaw. Their teacher seem to really enjoy working there, and I can't really say the same about most of my friends working in the education sector. :| My younger is their student, and she loves this place. <3
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
19 Mar 2022 #8
Best of luck, janbe!

I've already shared my experiences teaching English in Europe, although never in Poland.

Even if many schools, especially reputable language schools, insist on the instructor not necessarily knowing the target language, take it from me, that it's ALWAYS many times better to know at least the conversational basics of the local lingo.

That's my opinion.
jon357 71 | 20,189
19 Mar 2022 #9
instructor not necessarily knowing the target language

I'm not sure how that would work; you'd have to know what specific target language you're teaching in any given lesson or you'd simply not know what you're supposed to be teaching.

Like driving a bus without knowing the route or destination.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
20 Mar 2022 #10
I agree, jon. As usual, I didn't express myself clearly. The point was that if janbe intends to teach presumably monolinguals learning English in their country, it only makes sense to acquire the source language of the learners, right? When I was learning French in high school, our first-year instructress was a native Picard who nonetheless knew relatively fluent Englísh in order to effectively explain French structures to us Anglophones! I'd imagine the same standards apply to teaching high school English in Poland. I can only say that had I known no German when teaching in Germany, I would've been sunk.
jon357 71 | 20,189
20 Mar 2022 #11
it only makes sense to acquire the source language of the learners, right?

Not necessarily. When I was doing language training in Poland, I very rarely let the learners know that I'm fluent in Polish.

One or two found out, one or two knew beforehand, but on the whole nobody knew.

Using the communicative approach (or eclectic method, or British method or whatever people choose to call it) the learners' native language is never, ever used.

It does help for the trainer to have an insight into the issues speakers of one given language have when acquiring another, however this can be acquired without that language and there are well enough know reference books for teachers that explain what specific issues relate to learners with a given L1.

In Taiwan, many private language schools (especially the ones that teach young kids) take great care to advertise the fact that their teachers don't speak Chinese!
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
20 Mar 2022 #12
Interesting. To each his own I guess.
mafketis 34 | 11,878
20 Mar 2022 #13
Using the .... British method

How did the worst language learners in Europe get promoted to be in charge of foreign language learning? Makes no sense....

I think there is a time and place for classes with no use of the local language and a time and place where the learner's language is a valuable resource in learning...

Taiwan, ...advertise the fact that their teachers don't speak Chinese!

Taiwan has never struck me as a center of good foreign language learning... even in Asia....
Lenka 3 | 2,735
20 Mar 2022 #14
I think there is a time and place for classes with no use of the local language

I would say the early years and then the advanced learners. In between ... not so much
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
20 Mar 2022 #15
Correct! After the first several terms of high school French, our teacher switched during my intermediate year to French only, no English in class.
jon357 71 | 20,189
21 Mar 2022 #16
How did the worst language learners in Europe get promoted to be in charge of foreign language learning?

Because we're the biggest travellers in the English speaking world, and generally most learners outside South Korea, South America, the Philippines and to a point, Saudi Arabia.prefer standard English to American English.

Coming from the country that the language is named after is of course also far from a hindrance.

I think there is a time and place for classes with no use of the local language

There's certainly a place. Even very many places since most language learning (where English is concerned) is enabled by teachers who do not speak the students' L1. In fact in one of the thousands of classes that happen daily where the students are from different countries, the teacher would have to be a pretty exceptional polyglot.

When I first started teaching English back in the UK, I had a class with students from Japan, China, Syria, Turkey, Russia, and Poland, and when I worked onboard the ship I had classes with learners from the Philippines, Borneo, Russia, Romania, Croatia, France, Italy and Poland too, all in the same class.

Taiwan has never struck me as a center of good foreign language learning

The same, however it has one hell of a lot of language schools, a ruthless commercial market and a decided preference for teachers who don't speak Chinese.

I'd also guess that of all those who've taught in Poland, only a minority of us speak Polish well enough to hold a good conversation in it.
mafketis 34 | 11,878
21 Mar 2022 #17
Because we're the biggest travellers in the English speaking world

And terrible communicators... I've seen some impressively awful attempts. Foreign language learning has a lot of secondary benefits that can end up being more important than knowledge of a language for most people so ehn foreign language education is scaled back that kneecaps people's ability to communicate across language barriers.

Classes in the foreign country are a different mater, though in the case of the UK I think that ends up being more related to having a tourist experrience rather than actual language learning (the... very unique Szkutnik* used to have some words to say about that.

*why doesn't he have an English wikipedia page?

prefer standard English to American English

In Poland, saying you prefer British English is a Gricean response that doesn't necessarily correspond to reality (certainly almost no one actually attempts a British pronunciation).

pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Leszek_Szkutnik
jon357 71 | 20,189
21 Mar 2022 #18
And terrible communicators... I've seen some impressively awful attempts

I've seen people from here exhibiting great flair with languages.

As for 'terrible attempts' the more 'attempts' (an odd term for someone who I gather either teaches or taught) learners make the bette, mistakes or notr; that its a basic principle of language acquisition, as you know (or should).

though in the case of the UK I think that ends up being more related to having a tourist experrience rather than actual language learning

I've not seen that there, and the place I taught would be an odd destination for a tourist. What I saw was people who had saved up a lot of money to pay for their course (or their family had, often making sacrifices - a lucky few had employers who paid)

In Poland, saying you prefer British English

I've not heard anyone say that, however in Poland, learners do prefer standard English (as spoken in actual England) to local variants like Ghanaian English, Australian English, American English or Indian English; hence their training providers almost universally selecting materials from the UK. This is the same worldwide as textbook sales (and recruitment practices show).

Best not to go off-topic, although is in a sense germane to the thread due to employment practices in Poland.

About Szkutnik, the answers to the question

why doesn't he have an English wikipedia page?

is a Wilsonian answer, czyli "why haven't I written an English wikipaedia page for him".
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
21 Mar 2022 #19
@Maf & Jon,
As I've already expatiated at some length on PF,the problem with English in Europe nowadays is that everybody and their grandmother claims "native fluency" and will often become incensed at the drop of a hat once this faulty, indeed inaccurate, image is challenged, even if slightly!

No, I've never taught in Poland, but once again, in Germany, I was challenged at nearly every bend and turn in the more advanced classes, whereby the merest of polite corrective recasts of my students' compositions were met with resistance. Although I explained that I was a native American-English speaker with German as bilingual mother tongue, many of my charges flat out refused to accept criticism. After nearly twenty minutes of wrangling, sometimes I'd finally win them over.
jon357 71 | 20,189
21 Mar 2022 #20
in Germany

I've come across teachers who won't have Germans in their class for that reason and the constant questions and arguing.

I've also come across Poles challenging the teacher and claiming (incorrectly) that they're wrong.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
21 Mar 2022 #21
Granted. However, those whom I know here in the States who taught secondary school in Rzeszów, among other medium to larger Polísh cities, never actually endured rejection of the teacher's own prepared syllabus deemed "incorrect" if only allegedly because it doesn't conform to a dogmatic, pre-conceived notion of how English should either be taught or spoken! According to my colleagues, Poles aren't as didactícally hidebound as slightly older German pupils. Any simílar reactions?
mafketis 34 | 11,878
22 Mar 2022 #22
Poles aren't as didactícally hidebound as slightly older German pupils

short answer... "no, they're not"

Some years ago I knew and Irish guy who had taught in an adult education program. Once he made a joke about his Irish accent... and the next thing he knows there are people going to the administration complaining: They were paying for lessons in Hochenglisch and not some regional Dialekt...
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
22 Mar 2022 #23
Exceptions abound. Furthermore, being Irish and likely a Catholic, this fellow might well have had some church clout and picked on you for an unjustified complaint.
mafketis 34 | 11,878
22 Mar 2022 #24
Exceptions abound

I forgot to explicitly state that this happened in Germany (in or close to Berlin).

Guy was not.... religious... at all. He did have a sense of humor about the situation
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
22 Mar 2022 #25
Church connections override religious convictions, particularly where high school is concerned. I speak here from experience:-)
Sylvio 19 | 143
25 Mar 2022 #26
If I were you, I would only teach English on line as a side job. But look for a main job in some international business corporation. They will find you a role making use of your skills. Such corporations often use English internally, and may even help you grow experience you can use when you return to US. Which I am convinced you will do eventually.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
25 Mar 2022 #27
Quite right!
Throughout much of Western Europe as well, English has even become compulsory at internal meetings too, not only when foreign visitors are present:-)
At Siemens for instance, a German colleague reminded me a few months ago that as of now, ALL office memoranda must be in both languages, English and German or they will be deleted automatically and the employee will be possibly censured.

The exception though is if janbe can somehow secure private or ideally consulary work, teaching English to Polish diplomats and their children. That pays handsomely,

I can tell you that. One can earn all told nearly as much as a corporate salary, I've heard, if the work is steady enough of course.


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